Julia Nelmark
Chief Executive Officer

As the CEO for White Earth Investment Initiative, Julia Nelmark is responsible for administration of all corporate lending activities. She also serves as president of Midwest Minnesota Community Development Corporation (MMCDC) and previously served as the Director, New Markets Tax Credit Program. Originally from Illinois, Ms. Nelmark received her bachelor’s degree from Benedictine University, where she was Accounting Major of the Year. She received her CPA certification and went on to receive a master’s of management degree from Kellogg Graduate School of Business at Northwestern University.

Contact Information
119 Graystone Plaza Suite 100
Detroit Lakes, MN 56501
Phone: (218) 847-3191
Fax: (218) 847-3192
Email Julia Nelmark

Audra Tonihka
Vice President of Lending, NMLS #1492850

audra_tonihkaAudra Tonihka implements the commercial, residential and consumer Lending programs and manages the business Incubator for White Earth Investment Initiative. She is an enrolled tribal member who grew up in the community of White Earth and received a bachelor’s degree in business management from the University of Minnesota-Morris. Prior to joining the White Earth Investment Initiative staff, Tonihka served as a loan officer for the tribal credit union. She was also named by Finance & Commerce magazine to its list of Minnesota’s Top Women in Finance of 2016.


Contact Information
407 Main Street E
P.O. Box 38
Ogema, MN 56569-0038
Phone: (218) 983-6021
Fax: (218) 983-4021
Email Audra Tonihka

Sue Trnka
Community Services Coordinator

Sue Trnka leads homebuyer education classes, meets individually with potential homebuyers and oversees operation of the White Earth Tax Site. She has a history of community leadership and involvement, including serving as Mayor of the City of Waubun. After participating in the Honors Studies program at the University of North Dakota, she graduated form the University of Phoenix, Online Campus, with a bachelor of science in management.

Contact Information
119 Graystone Plaza Suite 100
Detroit Lakes, MN 56501
Phone: (218) 844-7029
Fax: (218) 847-3192
Email Sue Trnka



Four of White Earth Investment Initiative’s board members also are members of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe.

Dr. Arlen Kangas
Board Chairman

Dr. Kangas is the retired president of MMCDC. Under his leadership, the company’s asset base has grown from $2 million to more than $60 million. During the same period, the company’s revenues increased from less than $500,000 per year to more than $6.6 million. Dr. Kangas received a bachelor’s degree in economics in 1978, graduating Summa Cum Laude from Bemidji State University. He then received his master’s degree and a doctorate from Washington State University in Pullman, Washington.

Dan Stevens
Board Member

dan_stevensStevens has been active in the community development field for years as a board member for MMCDC. He is accustomed to linking financial and technical resources to individual businesses and communities in need, and also understands the needs of the Reservation. He is an enrolled tribal member and a Reservation community resident.

Dean Johnson
Board Member

dean_johnsonJohnson served as the first-ever economic development director for the White Earth Reservation Tribal Government. Prior to assuming that position in 2007, Johnson served as the longtime administrator for Mahnomen, Minn., the reservation’s largest community. He is retired.

Doug Fabre
Board Member

doug_fabreDoug Fabre is an enrolled member of the White Earth Band of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe and a longtime resident of the Reservation community. He worked for Qwest telephone company and a tribally owned building supply company, of which he later served on the board of directors following retirement. He is a veteran and active in the VFW Club.

Jessica Tolifson
Board Member

Jessica Tolifson is an enrolled tribal member and lifelong resident of the White Earth Reservation. She has an accounting degree and works for the White Earth RBC Natural Resources division. She was formerly employed by White Earth Business Products and White Earth Enterprises. All are tribal entities.